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What Causes Fluid Above the Belly Button After a Tummy Tuck? Does This Go Away After Being Drained?

Would another surgery be necessary? Thank you

Doctor Answers (8)

Supraumbilical Fluid Collection after Tummy Tuck

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   A supraumbilical fluid collection after tummy tuck should be drained until it does not reaccumulate.  The binder should be worn at all times as instructed.  A fluid collection that remains has the ability to worsen the contour.


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 237 reviews

Fluid after a tummy tuck? Why and how to treat.

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The fluid that accumulates after a tummy tuck is related to the lymphatic drainage system of the abdomen. To perform a tummy tuck, the upper abdominal skin is elevated off the abdominal muscle layer. The lymphatic vessels exist in this surgical plane and thus many are disrupted during the course of the operation. Leakage can occur simply due to the disruptions in these little vessels. On top of this, the surgical manipulation of the skin, fat, and muscle creates a large inflammatory response which dilates blood vessels, brings in much more fluid to the area and thus the entire area swells. If fluid collects in the space between the muscles and the fat, we call this a seroma. Initially, the drains placed during the operation remove this fluid, but after the drains are removed, this fluid can continue to accumulate and may need an aspiration. For swelling within the tissues, compression garments, lowering salt intake, and time can help. As the healing process continues and the inflammatory response subsides, the swelling eventually decreases. This process can take several months to complete.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Fluid Above the Belly Button After a Tummy Tuck

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Fluid is secreted into the space between the abdominal fat and the muscle layer after TT, and that is the reason most surgeons use drains. Sometimes fluid can continue to collect after the drains are removed. Most surgeons prefer to aspirate any collections once recognized. Sometimes this is done more than once. It happens, but quite uncommonly, that a surgical procedure is needed after all else fails. 

Thanks, best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

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Fluid

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All empty spaces in the body fill up with fluid until it seals with healing. If this collection is small it may resolve on its own

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
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Fluid Collection after Tummy Tuck

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It is normal for fluid to collect under the skin after a tummy tuck.  This is the reason for the use of drains.  If the drains are removed too soon, fluid will collect and need to be drained with a needle.  If the collection continues, a new drain will need to be placed.  Most commonly, this happens below the belly button but can also occur above it if you remained flexed too long or if a compression garment presses tighter in the lower tummy instead of evenly throughout.  I typically don't recommend compression garments until you are able to stand straight and the drains have been removed.

Martin O'Toole, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Seroma above the umbilicus after an abdominoplasty

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Most of the time a seroma that develops after an abdominoplasty is in the lower abdomen but occasionally one can form above the umbilicus.  I think that this happens due to compression by the garment.  They are usually self limited and require drainage by needle aspiration.  These only in rare circumstances require a surgical procedure to correct.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Fluid after a tummy tuck

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Occasionally, after the drains are removed, you can accumulate some fluid under the skin.  In most cases, this is a seroma.  Most of the time, your surgeon can drain this with a small needle in the office.  However, occasionally, you will need to go to the radiologist to have it drained with ultrasound guidance.  It will not effect your final outcome.

 

Good luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Hello

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That is called a seroma, it will subside with time. It is caused if you are not following your PS instructions. You should be keeping your tummy nice and tight with not a lot of movement. You have a cave under your tummy for about 6 weeks. If nothing is holding your skin tight that is what happens.

 

Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.